There are dozens of easily recognizable signs that autumn has arrived in Montreal. The street level terrasses have begun disappearing for the season, the bright green leaves of the trees that dot our streets have changed to warm hues of yellow, red and orange and Montrealers everywhere are huddled around screens as hockey season takes over our lives for the coming months. Whether we are at home, at the Bell Centre or gathered in our favourite restaurants, sports bars or pubs, the Canadians games are our top priority.
Montreal’s restaurants have been catering to our hockey obsession for years and this year Monza, the Italian restaurant nestled near the busy corner of Saint-Catherine and McGill College has thrown their hat in the ring, offering a family style menu that will be served during and before (in case you’re headed to the Bell Centre) the games. Regular season games can be watched (with the sound off) but heading into the finals next year, the roar of the crowds will be the only thing we hear – as long as the Habs make it.
We previewed the special menu a couple of weeks ago during our first ever visit inside the restaurant. There were a couple of items that really scored while others missed the goal all together. If you find yourself downtown and looking to leave behind the pubs for a 5a7 approach to watching the game, here’s what we recommend from Monza. The Butcher’s Board is hard to beat. It’s a charcuterie platter that towers with cured meats, bread and cheese. It’s a great “first period” approach to getting your meal started. The crostini bruschetta also does a great job cutting the hunger. I’d skip the meatballs; they were spongy and lacked flavour but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the calebrese salad. The bigger version of the salad is easily shared between three or four people.
Provided the Canadians keep scoring into the second period, the anticipation and hunger to win grows. Monza provides a cure for your food hunger with a selection of main dishes that include pizza, pasta and fries. The fries are excellent. They are deliciously savoury and best eaten piping hot. A bowl is best shared among the table unless you’re like me and you want to keep them all for yourselves. The penne arrabiata was also wonderful but the tortellini in rose sauce was less appetizing. The pizzas are best washed down with a fresh glass of wine, a cocktail or a pint of on-tap beer.
The third period brings everything to a close (unless there’s an overtime, of course) and the best way to close out any meal, whether hockey is involved or not, is with a great dessert. The special menu features a Nutella pizza and an apple crumble. I might be the only person on the planet who doesn’t like Nutella but apple crumble is one of my favourite desserts. These desserts are pretty straight forward which I love. They’re classics, not deconstructed nor reinvented which suits classic lovers just fine.
In the coming weeks there’s going to be more than just hockey going on at Monza. From October 24th to the 31st, the restaurant will be participating in the first ever Pizza Week in Montreal and from the 2nd to the 16th of November you can come try their special menu for MTL a Table!